#Africa100: Celebrating 100 exceptional African women
On International Women's Day in 2018, Pulse celebrates the achievement and impact of these African women.
This year is no different. The role of women in different sectors cannot be understated. In every sector of life, amazons are leading the charge and taking more positions of influence and power.
On this International Women’s Day, Pulse is celebrating the 100 women who have done amazing things in their respective fields within the last 4 years.
This is #Africa100, a celebration of the contributions of African women.
1) Tiwa Savage
Within the last few years, she has grown from a highly promising singer and songwriter to one of the biggest female acts in the country. Her second album RED was a success that helped her push her brand to the international scene. Having struck a management deal with Roc Nation, Tiwa Savage is flying the Nigerian flag abroad. She is more than a music star. Ms Savage is also a fashion and style influencer. With hit after hit, Tiwa Savage is one of the biggest acts around Nigeria right now.
2) Angelique Kidjo
The Amazon of African music has refused to slow down. After dominating the 90s with her blend of West African folk music and European pop music, Kidjo is still very relevant in 2018. In 2016 she won the Best World Music Album at the 2015 Grammys. Not only is she a legendary singer, she is a good actress. She starred in Kunle Afolayan’s movie ‘The CEO’ in 2018.
Within the male-dominated and pop crazy music scene in Nigeria, Simi is rewriting the rules. With her girl-next-door appeal, flawless singing and expert songwriting, Simi is conquering according to her own rules. Her sophomore album Simisola is regarded by many music taste makers as the best Nigerian album of 2017.
The soulful songbird is still doing her own thing. Asa has maintained her status as one of the biggest African music exports. Apart from being a mainstay within the European music scene, she annually holds a concert in her native Lagos, which remains the biggest concert for alternative music in Nigeria.
5) Yemi Alade
Energetic, fierce and sexy, Yemi Alade is one of the queens of African music. More than just a household name, she is more than a big deal in France & Europe. She regularly tours there and in 2017 she sold out the iconic Le Trianon in Paris during her European tour.
The beautiful Ghanaian singer has had a firm grip on the music scene in her country. With three albums under her belt and numerous awards for her soul gripping vocal performances, Efya has stayed very relevant in this new wave of West African pop music.
7) Charlotte Dipanda
Hailing from Cameroon, Dipanda is a household name in her country. She is based in France, and regularly holds concerts in her native country. Charlotte Dipanda has been able to sell out the popular l’Olympia in France.
8) Vanessa Mdee
The Tanzanian princess is a pan-African pop singer in the very sense of the word. She has her fingers in many creative endeavours but is presently known as one of the exciting singers in Africa. Mdee who started as an MTV VJ released her debut album in January 2018. She is also an actress, starring notable projects such as MTV Shuga: Down South.
9) Nhlanhla Nciza (Mafikizolo)
In the South African group, Nhlanhla Nciza stands tall. She is one of the biggest female acts in her home country. Her unique voice on Mafikizolo’s smash hits has risen her stock in Africa. Beyond music, Nhlanhla Nciza has her own clothing NN Vintage.
Hailing from Ivory Coast, Josey packs a mean punch with her small discography. Her hit song ‘Diplome’ released in 2015 has over 20 million views on her YouTube channel. Her other singles have been hits in her home country as well.
Film + TV
1) Mo Abudu
The runaway success of The Wedding Party franchise and the growing influence of her movie production outfit EbonyLife Films has made Mo Abudu one of the biggest movie producers out of Nigeria. Her success is the movie sector hasn’t the important role of her TV outfit, EbonyLife TV that has helped produce relevant content for Nigerians.
2) Anne Kansiime
Known as Africa’s Queen of comedy, the 31-year old Ugandan comedian and actresses, Kansiime is a phenomenon. Her numerous skits on YouTube are a must watch. They are pure comedy gold. In 2014, these skits had amassed 15 million views on YouTube. Anne Kansiime’s popularity has seen her featured on BBC Focus on Africa.
3) Uzo Aduba
The 37-year-old Nigeria actress plays the role of the famous ‘Crazy Eyes’ on the US hit TV show ‘Orange Is The New Black’. In 2014, she won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. She also nabbed an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2015. Her accolades don’t stop there. She has two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series in both 2014 and 2015. Beat that!
4) Tope Oshin
She is one of the few women directors in Nigeria. Tope Oshin is, however, a force to reckon with. She initially started off in front of the camera but later became a director. Some of her important works include Fifty, Tinsel and Hotel Majestic. Oshin regularly holds workshops to inspire young women in the movie industry.
5) Yvonne Orji
The Nigerian actress grabbed global attention for her scene-stealing performance in the hit TV series ‘Insecure. Her role as Molly gained her rave reviews in Hollywood. Despite her meteoric rise, Orji has kept it real and very Nigerian. Her down-to-earth persona will no doubt inspire many African girls with dreams of becoming TV stars.
6) Pearl Thusi
Hailing from the rainbow nation down south, Thusi is one of the biggest TV girls. In 2016, she took her talent in America as she nabbed a role in the TV series ‘Quantico’. She still features in the series. Thusi is approximately worth $2m.
7) Lupita Nyong’O
What else should we say about the Kenyan actress? For those who thought she was a fluke after winning an Oscar in 2013 for her role in ‘12 Years A Slave’, Nyong’O has proven them wrong. She starred in the highly successful Star Wars franchise, Queen Katwe and of course the pop culture phenomenon Black Panther. She is more than an actress. In 2014, Lupita bought the rights for Chimamanda Adichie’s book ‘Americanah’ which will soon go into production.
8) Funke Akindele
This insanely popular actress cannot be held back. After the success of her movie franchise ‘Jennifa’, Akindele flipped it into a TV series that has also been a hit. The star actress has also created a business formula for her productions by cutting out the middleman and selling directly to her fans. Funke Akindele is still one of the highest paid actresses in Nigeria.
Nigeria has been blessed with child actors. Emmanuella is the latest star of this mould. Featuring in Mark Angel’s YouTube series, it is undeniable that the young actress is a star. Her videos gain over a million views. She is a star in foreign countries like the Philippines. Emmanuella is one of Africa’s few YouTube stars.
10) Stephanie Okereke Linus
The actress and movie producer has taken it upon herself to use her movies to seek for social change. Her 2014 movie ‘Dry’ focuses on the dangers of underage marriage. In 2017, she helped 35 women with Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) with reconstructive surgery. Her husband is the CEO of Del York, an institution that trains Nigerians and Africans interested in filmmaking.
1) Asisat Oshoala
She is presently Nigeria’s biggest woman football star. She has won the African Women’s Footballer of the Year award thrice, 2014, 2016 and 2017. She has won the African Women’s Championship in 2014 and 2016. Asisat has played for Liverpool, Arsenal and Dalian Quanjian F.C.
2) Winter Olympics Nigerian bobsled team
At the 2018 Winter Olympics, the Nigerian women’s bobsled team grabbed the attention of the world from Beats by Dre to Serena Williams. The trio of Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga proved that if you can think it, you can achieve it. Their story and journey to the Winter Olympics is an inspirational tale of belief and determination.
3) Blessing Okagbare
She is an Amazon of track and field. Blessing Okagbare represents Nigeria in the long jump and short sprints. Having started her career in 2004, Okagbare has bagged a lot of accolades for Nigeria including Women's 100 metres Commonwealth Games record for the fastest time at 10.85 seconds.
4) Caster Semenya
The South African middle-runner is a world champion. At the 2012 & 2016 Olympics, she won gold at the 800m event. Her sex verification test and controversy hasn’t deterred her from putting all her best on the track for South Africa and women around the world.
5) Naomi Ruele
Hailing from Botswana, the 21-year old swimmer got into the history books as the first swimmer to represent her country at the Olympics. She holds national records in several swimming competitions, 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle, as well as 50-meter and 100-meter backstroke.
6) Winnie Okoth
In 2017 she was crowned the “fittest woman in Kenya.” Okoth is an Olympic weightlifter and is a certified CrossFit coach. She ranks 147 out of 6,000 competitors in the world.
7) Simidele Adeagbo
In 2018, she made history as the first Nigerian to represent Nigeria at the skeleton event at the Winter Olympics. She is also the first female black athlete in this event. Before trying her hands on the skeleton event, she was a triple jump athlete.
8) Sanaa Benhama
Born in 1982, this Moroccan athlete is a distinguished Paralympian. She has three gold Paralympic medals. She is consistently proving that even with vision impairment you can live the best life.
9) Joyline Cherotich
From the country of Kenya, Cherotich won a bronze medal at the World Youth Championships in Athletics in the 1500m race. In 2016 she won two gold medals at the African Junior Athletics Championships; in the 1500 metre race and 3000-metre race. Watch out for her at the next Olympics.
10) Keolebogile Mokolopo
Believe it or not skipping rope is a sport and Mokolopo from South Africa is one of the best at it.
1) Oby Ezekwesili
A fierce activist, Ezekwesili takes no prisoner. She is at the forefront of the Bring Back Our Girls movement to help in rescuing the abducted Chibok girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014. A former Minister of Education is also behind the red card movement which aims at creating alternative political platforms to challenge the APC and PDP.
2) Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi
Rape and rape culture are two big issues in Nigeria. There are several women in the country trying to educate people on this menace. One of them is Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi, the founder of the Stand To End Rape initiative. With her organization, Osowobi has treated many rape victims, help seek justice for them and educate Nigerians on rape culture and consent.
3) Liya Kebede
She is more than a supermodel from Ethiopia. Liya Kebede has dedicated her life to improving birth conditions for women in Africa. Her foundation launched in 2005 to help tackle this issue. As one of the leading maternal health advocates in Africa, her foundation has assisted more than 10,000 mothers so far.
4) Esther Ibanga
She is the founder of Women Without Walls Initiative initiative. In 2015, she received global attention for campaigning for the safe return of Chibok girls, which she still does till today. She has also paid attention to poor communities and trying to help them develop.
5) Edna Adan Ismail
At the age of 81 she has shown no signs of slowing down. Edna Adan Ismail is the director and founder of Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Somalia which focuses. Ismail fights for the end of female genital mutilation. Formerly the Foreign Minister and Family Welfare and Social Development in her country, Edna Adan Ismail was awarded the French Legion of Honour for her work in 2010.
6) Sue Barnes
She is the creator of Subz, panties to which sanitary pads can be attached to. This has been mainly useful for underprivileged girls who cannot afford sanitary pads. Barnes invented the washable pads which last for 5 years. She gives the pads to these girls for free as well as education on sex and female reproductive organs.
7) Thato Kgatlhanye & Rea Ngwane
These two brilliant South African women are the brains behind an invention that have made lives easier for South African students. Repurpose Schoolbags are environment-friendly bags made from ‘upcycled’ plastic shopping bags with solar technology. The bags charge during the day and produce light at night. Targeting students from poor communities, their initiative has helped these kids study at night and make them visible while walking on the road during the night.
8) Ellen Chilemba
She is responsible for Tiwale, a social initiative based in Malawi which aims to change the lives of women who have to deal with problems such as illiteracy, HIV/AIDS, high maternal mortality rate and low socioeconomic status. Tiwale is responsible for training 150 women and giving them entrepreneurial skills as well as loans and grants.
9) Birikit Terefe Tiruneh Birikiis
As the founding director of the Women’s Health Association located in Ethiopia, she has helped give training to women in both health and life areas. The association taught more than 500 women within the space of four years.
10) Lydia Hakizimana
She is an activist who is concerned about children’s literacy in her country of Rwanda and. With her company Drakkar Ltd, Lydia Hakizimana is helping improve the reading culture. Her company also trains teachers as a way to build literacy among young people in Rwanda.
Government & Politics
1) Diane Rwigara
In 2017 she became the first independent female presidential candidate in Rwanda. She was highly critical of President Paul Kagame especially in areas of corruption and injustice. Although her presidential bid was dismissed on technical grounds she launched the People Salvation Movement to challenge the government on its human rights records.
2) Alengot Oromait
The Ugandan politician entered politics at a very early age. When she was 19 she became a member of parliament making her the youngest MP ever in her country. As part of the ruling party, National Resistance Movement she focuses on gender issues, education and health policies.
3) Mbali Ntuli
She is one of the prominent South African women politicians. Ntuli is a member of the Democratic Alliance and former leader of Democratic Alliance Youth.
4) Sophia Abdi Noor
In Kenya, she became the first woman from the North Eastern to be elected to Parliament. This was in 2017. A seasoned politician, Noor has been contesting in elections since the late 90s.
5) Aishah Ahmad
In 2017, she became the first female deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Before her historic appointment, she was one Nigeria’s top women in business, as she was the Head, Consumer and Privilege Banking at Diamond Bank.
6) Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
The former Liberian president for a while has been one of the most popular and famous female politicians in Africa. Under her rule, she was able to stabilize the country. This year she peacefully handed over power to former football star George Weah.
7) Ameenah Gurib-Fakim
She is one of the few female presidents in the world and presently the only one in Africa. As the president of Mauritius, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim. Not only is she a female pioneer in politics but she has only blazed the trail in science as well. She was the first female professor at the University of Mauritius, and first female dean of the Faculty of Science.
8) Hala Shukrallah
The Egyptian politician in 2014 became the first woman to head a political party, and also the first Christian to do so.
9) Joice Mujuru
The Zimbabwean politician was one of the few who stood up to Robert Mugabe when he was in power. She initially was a member of his cabinet and Vice-President of the Zanu PF. In 2015 she formed the Zimbabwe People First party which fiercely opposed Mugabe’s rule until he stepped down.
10) Fowsiyo Yusuf H. Adan
The politician from Somalia served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister till 2014. She played a key role in revitalizing the economy of Somalia and recovering national assets.
Arts & Literature
1) Chimamanda Adichie
She is one of the key literary figures on the continent in our time. Within the last five years, Adichie’s influence has not only grown in literature but in popular culture as well. Beyonce quoted lines from her essay ‘We should all be feminists’ which was later converted into a book in 2014. In 2015, she released “Dear Ijeawele or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions.” Her book ‘Americanah’ has been picked up y Lupita Nyong’O and will be turned into a movie.
2) Nnedi Okorafor
She is one of the freshest writers of science fiction and fantasy right now in the world. In 2017, she gained global attention when her book Who Fears Death was picked up by HBO. The book which will be turned into a TV series will be produced by George R.R Martin of Game of Thrones. Also in 2017, she wrote three issues of Black Panther for Marvel Comics and wrote a short comic concerning the kidnapping of 200 girls by Boko Haram.
3) Wangechi Mutu
Known as an an Afro-futurist, the Kenyan artist based in Brooklyn, New York, has had her works showcased around the globe in some of the biggest art galleries. In 2015, she was part of the 56th Venice Biennale's International Art Exhibition. Her works have been displayed at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art; The Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
4) Ghada Amer
She is an Egyptian contemporary artist who lives in New York. Amer’s works have touched on themes such as gender and sexuality.
5) Ato Malinda
Born in Kenya, this multi-disciplinary artist now goes by the name Ato Malinda. One of her most famous works is a piece called Mami Wata, the river goddess. In 2016 she was profiled by the Wall Street Journal and an awardee of the National Museum of African Art.
6) Sokari Douglas Camp
This Nigerian artist who is based in London is a steel sculptor. Her works are influenced by her Kalabari heritage. Douglas Camp who was awarded a CBE in 2005 is still one of Africa’s biggest artists. Her work Primavera was shown at the October gallery in 2016.
7) Aïda Muluneh
She is an Ethiopian photographer and contemporary artist. Regarded as one of the leading photographers in Africa, she was a jury member at the Sony World Photography Awards 2017 and the World Press Photo Contest in 2017.
8) Lola Shoneyin
She is one of the profound authors in Nigeria at the moment. Her famous book The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives is about to be adapted into a stage play that will take place in London. Shoneyin is also the convener of the annual Ake Arts & Book Festival, which has grown to become the biggest literary event in Nigeria.
9) Sethembile Msezane
Sethembile Msezane is a South African visual artist. In 2016 she became the first recipient of the Rising Light award at the Mbokodo Awards in 2016 and became a TEDGlobal speaker in 2017.
10) Delphine Diallo
The Senegalese artist is a photographer of immense talent who wants to be a global icon of the arts. Her latest works have been curated by famed Hip-Hop producer Swizz Beatz and displayed in art galleries all over Europe.
1) Dr Chao Mbogo
The Kenyan computer scientist has used her research to help learners in unconducive environments to learn about IT and programming using their mobile phones. In 2015 she got her PhD in Computer Science at the University of Cape Town. In the same year, she was a recipient of the Schlumberger Faculty for the Future award.
2) Ernestina Appiah
She is the founder of Ghana Code Club which is an after-school program for school kids between 9-18. The code club collaborates with ICT teachers from numerous schools to create projects which teach kids how to make computer games, websites and animation. In 2015 she made this list of BBC’s inspirational women.
3) Nneka Offor
This Nigerian lady is the founder of Skillboox. It is an online marketing place that is centred on establishing personal, professional and employability skills development courses.
4) Tolu Oni
She is a researcher at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Tolu Oni has a passion for enlightening humanity on the implications of the changing patterns of diseases in Africa’s urban areas. She is on the path of creating an initiative that will deal with population health issues in Africa.
5) Professor Tebello Nyokong
The South African chemist is celebrated for her research into photodynamic therapy for cancer treatment. She has been presented with an award by the African Union for her contribution to the advancement of science in Africa.
6) Regina Honu
She is the founder of Soronko Solutions, a software development company located in her country Ghana. As part of her efforts to teach young ones about coding, she recently opened the Soronko Academy, a coding school, the first of its kind in Africa. She is regularly featured on international lists of African women making an impact in STEM.
7) Blessing Kwomo
The 22-year-old Nigerian is helping lower-income families solve their health problems. In 2014 she launched De Rehoboths Therapeutic Studio which gives a holistic approach to healthcare. Her company also organizes hygiene and sexual health seminars.
8) Rebecca Enonchong
She is a Cameroonian tech entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of Apps Tech. In 2014, Forbes mentioned her as ‘10 Female Tech Founders to Watch Out For in Africa’. She is the founder and chairperson of a non-profit aimed at helping startups in Africa called Africa Technology Forum.
9) Dr Unoma Ndili Okorafor
She is a graduate of Computer and Electrical Engineering from the University of Lagos. She founded Working to Advance African Women (WAAW) Foundation in 2007. Since inception, her foundation has been championing female inclusion and participation in STEM. With 13 STEM outreach and mentoring programs in 8 different African countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, Malawi, Togo and South Africa; the WAAW Foundation is impacting the lives of women in these fields. In 2017, her foundation gave scholarships to five female students to study STEM-related courses in the university.
10) Tshiamo Legoale
In 2017, Legoale grabbed headlines for her groundbreaking metallurgical research. She won the FameLab SA competition for proving that it is possible to harvest gold from wheat crops grown on mine dumps.
1) Omoyemi Akerele
As the founder and convener of the Lagos Fashion & Design Week, Akerele is one of the most important personalities in Nigerian fashion. She has made the BOF 500 List for five consecutive years. As the founder and artistic director of Style House File, a creative development agency for designers in Africa, she helps promising young fashion brands grow their international presence.
2) Lisa Folawiyo
This Nigerian fashion designer in Nigeria and New York. Let’s not forget that her colourful collections are stocked in countries such as the U.K and South Africa. She has collaborated with international brands such as L’Oreal. Not bad for a fashion designer who has no formal training in the business.
3) Folake Coker (Tiffany Amber)
She is the creative director of the brand known as Tiffany Amber. Launched in 1998, Tiffany Amber remains as one of Nigeria’s strongest fashion brands. In 2015, she launched Tiffany Amber Living, a home line that celebrates the rich African culture and sophisticated living.
4) Adama Ndiaye
She hails from Senegal and is the force behind Adama Paris. Most of her pieces are made in the North African country of Morocco. In 2010, she started the Black Fashion Week to promote talented black individuals in the fashion industry which still holds till today.
5) Aisha Obuobi
She is the woman behind the brand known as Christie Brown which is a luxury apparel located in Accra, Ghana. She graduated with a degree in psychology but went on to study at the Vogue Style School of Fashion. Her designs have been worn by international stars such as Michelle Williams and Alicia Keys.
6) Deola Sagoe
Deola Sagoe, is from Ondo state, Nigeria and the founder of Deola. She has been in the fashion business since 1989 and is regarded as a Nigerian fashion icon. She has worked with international figures such as Lydia Hearst, Alek Wek, Oprah Winfrey and Will Smith. In 2014, she made her movie debut by starring on October 1, a film by Kunle Afolayan.
7) Amaka Osakwe of Maki Oh
The New Yorker calls her “West Africa’s Most Daring Designer.” She is the genius behind the ready-to-wear label Maki Oh. Her major shot to fame was when former US 1st lady Michelle Obama wore one of her pieces in 2013. Since then her profile has grown bigger within the international scene.
8) Lanre DaSilva Ajayi
She is the founder of the Lanre DaSilva Ajayi brand which started in 2005. 13 years later, she is one of the biggest fashion designers out of Africa.
9) Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim (Mataano)
These Somali twin sisters are the founders of Mataano. Based in America, the twin sisters were once interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. Even though they grew up in America, their designs reflect their Somali heritage.
1) Folorunsho Alakija
She is one of the wealthiest women in the world. Starting off in fashion, Alakija got into the oil business later on in life. As the head of oil exploration company Famfa Oil, Alakija is reportedly worth $2.1bn. She also has business interests in real estate.
2) Hajia Bola Shagaya
She is another oil baroness from Nigeria. As the founder and CEO of Bolmus Group International, Shagaya has many business interests in oil, real estate, banking, communications sectors. In 2005, she became the M.D of Practoil Ltd.
3) Bridgette Radebe
From South Africa comes the mining queen. She is regarded as the first black female mining entrepreneur in South Africa. Her company Mmakau Mining has investments in gold, platinum, coal, ferrochrome, and uranium. She is also the president of the South African Mining Development Association.
4) Salwa Akhannouch
The Moroccan business tycoon got into business in 1993 when she started her distribution company for floor laying materials. Presently she is the boss of a petroleum products distribution company known as the Akwa Group. She is also the founder of the Aksal Group, a large company that deals in luxury goods, retail, department stores, and shopping malls.
5) Tabitha Karanja
She is the Kenyan CEO of the only big-scale brewery owned by a Kenyan which she launched in 1997, Keroche Breweries. She has taken on international brewing companies and won. Her main beer brand Summit is a favourite in Kenya. Karanja plans on expanding her empire several other African countries.
6) Njeri Rionge
Another Kenyan business Amazon is Njeri Rionge. Starting as an entrepreneur at an early age, she has gone on to be a serial entrepreneur with investments in IT, business, health care, startup incubators and digital marketing.
7) Isabel do Santos
Her estimated net worth is staggering, $3.3 billion. This makes her the richest woman in Africa. Her fortune comes from oil, diamonds which Angola has a lot of. She is the eldest daughter of Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos. She also has investments in communications and banking.
8) Sibongile Sambo
The South African business icon is the founder and managing director of SRS Aviation which happens to be the first black female-owned aviation company in her country.
9) Divine Ndhlukula
Hailing from Zimbabwe, she is the founder SECURICO, a security company which is one of the is one of the largest security outfits in the Southern African country. In 2015 she was selected as one of the most influential female leaders in the world by Empowering a Billion Women by 2020. The list also included women like Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton,
10) Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu
She is an Ethiopian businesswoman and the founder of soleRebels hailed as “Africa’s fastest growing footwear company.” Her outfit has stores in Taiwan, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, U.S, Singapore, and Japan. Bethlehem has been named by Forbes as one of 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa.
Beauty & Wellness
1) Alek Wek
The South Sudanese model has one of the most recognizable faces in the world. Long before the melanin magic trend that has swept pop culture, Alek Wek has been repping ‘the black is beautiful’ movement. She has modelled for some of the world’s biggest designers. Alek Wek is regarded as a pioneering figure for black beauty around the world.
2) Jackie Aina
She is a YouTube star and one of the biggest and most influential vloggers in the global beauty industry. She launched her YouTube channel in 2009 and now has 2 million subscribers. Her popularity goes beyond skin deep as she regularly speaks up for black women and black beauty in the makeup industry.
3) Tara Fela-Durotoye
She is the founder and CEO of House of Tara International. She has one of the biggest makeup brands in Nigeria. She has over 3,000 reps in Nigerian and 14 stores with her brand name. Her makeup school is of international standard and has trained countless makeup artists.
4) Banke Meshida-Lawal
She isn’t a makeup artist but a celebrity makeup artist. Banke Meshida-Lawal is the CEO of BM Pro, which has a cosmetic line business and a training school.
5) Olori Swank
Olori Swank is a top celebrity stylist in America. She has worked with celebrities such as Keyshia Cole, T.I, Childish Gambino, Angela Simmons, Christina Milian, among others. Within Hip-Hop circles, she is in high demand to make celebrities look good for photo shoots and the red carpet.
6) Ade Samuel
Ade Samuel has built a stellar career which has seen her become one of the most respected women in the industry. Carving her own niche and using her platform, Ade tackles the important issues surrounding race in the industry and the importance of female representation. As a stylist, she has worked with ‘Blackish’ star Yara Shahidi and one-third of arguably the most popular girl group in the world, Kelly Rowland.
7) Tammy Nott
She is a Namibian entrepreneur who is the founder of the founder of Mbiri Natural Skincare which was launched in 2015. The company is inspired by the Himba women of Kaokoland of Namibia. In 2016, she launched a crowdfunding campaign to increase economic opportunities for Himba women.
8) Korkor Kugblenu
Hailing from Ghana, she is the creative brain behind The Body Butter Company, a beauty company focused on creating natural beauty solutions for women in sub-Saharan Africa. Apart from selling beauty products, Kugblenu goes to secondary schools and talks to young women about natural beauty and self-love.
9) Khoudia Diop
She is a Senegalese model known for her extremely dark skin. Self-described as the ‘melanin goddess’, Diop is at the forefront of the acceptance of black beauty with the beauty and fashion industry globally.
10) Halima Aden
In 2017, the Somali model became the first Hijab wearing model signed by top modelling agency IMD. She has worked with international brands such as Nike, Vogue, American Eagle while remaining firm in her religious beliefs.
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